Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hobby Within A Hobby

I couldn't be more happy to finally have a something to do.  I used to spend a lot of time being bored and looking for things to do.  The RC hobby is so much more than just buying a car, charging a battery, and running laps at full speed.  One of the most time consuming and sometimes therapeutic aspects of the hobby is painting.  Although you can see with my first paint job (Lotus Elise pic) I went with the good old one color wonder and put the decals that came with the body on it.  I have to say, I think it looks awesome regardless of being one color... at least it did before I decided to learn how to race with it.  So after painting my first body, I was so proud that I decided to post it up on and get some feedback.  What I was surprised to find was a whole new sub-hobby.  Some of the top painters in RC show off their painting skills here and they inspired me to put a little more into my own paintings.  Although I'm not very good at it... I do like to at least give it an honest effort and attempt to add my own touch to painting.  The second body I painted was a Dodge Viper that I added a some flames and a maltese cross to and it was soon dubbed "The Batmobile" at the track.  Since then, I have tried other techniques... some that have worked, some not so much.  I aspire to get better at it and the one thing that I constantly have to tell myself it to take my time.... here are a few bodies I have painted so far...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why do we do this?

I'm not entirely positive how it happened, but I would imagine it all going down like this.....

After the first automobile is made, some other guy decided he wanted to get in on the action.  Which in turn created a little competition... how could the second guy make his automobile better than the first?  The answer is SPEED... and so to determine who had the faster automobile, they set them up side by side and stomped on the throttle... wide open at a whopping 15 or so MPH.  BAM!! Racing was born... and never died, sort of like Larry King.  Soon after, the competition must have gotten pretty heated... because they didn't have rules, classes, or any guidelines in the beginning.  It was simple... whoever went faster was the winner.  After that, they probably decided to try other ways to race, i.e. touring, off-road, drag, oval, etc.  That's pretty much the greatest birth of a sport right there!  Caused by competition, to raise the competition, and now look at where we are today. 

So, here's the deal-e-o... people race because of two reasons, they like to have fun and they like to win, although some like to win more than others.  And of course, the sweet taste of victory is much nicer than the bitterness of defeat.  However, sometimes it seems like there may be something out there that just doesn't seem to want you to succeed.  If you run three qualifiers and break a part in one, your battery dumps in another, and strip a spur gear in the third... leaving you dead last in the mains, how the hell are you supposed to have fun now?  Well, it goes without saying that even though we are all racing "for fun", it is a lot of fun to win, place, or just beat your best lap times.  Whether you are a beginner, a novice, an expert, or you've been around since the invention of the tire (Larry King), you should always have a goal for the day.  You may want to beat your fastest lap time, make more laps, become more consistent, get on the podium, or just finally finish a dang race.  If you can meet that goal, then you can consider yourself a winner for the day.  Sometimes, you may even get lucky and completely overshoot your goal.

The RC hobby has provided me a couple things I find to be necessities in my life.  Racing and competition... all the other stuff (friends, fun, excitement, etc.) are all along for the ride.  So, I'd like to say a few words to those that are not involved in RC racing... "na na na na boo boo... stick your head in doo doo".  That is all.


Monday, March 14, 2011

1/12 Scale Racing

My first, and so far only, RC kit that I built by myself is the T.O.P. Rebel 12.  I have to admit, I was a little intimidated at the thought of building a kit that says in the instructions that it should be built by a person with building experience.  However, the instructions and little alphabetized bags made building this car simple and easy. 

After watching a couple guys building pan cars during the oval races, I understood the basic concept.  Building kits takes time, this is extremely important because a well built car needs to be assembled very meticulously.  Polishing, shaving, assembling little parts, and function checking are very time consuming, but well worth the effort.  I can't even tally up all the hours spent on this because I broke it down into sections, but if I had to take a guess, it would be somewhere around 30 hours.  After finally finishing, I was proud to complete my first RC from a kit and I posted about 30 pics of the build on my facebook. 

I couldn't wait to see how this car drove.  I knew it would be different than a 1/10 Touring Car, but I was amazed at how darty and twitchy the car was.  Every tiny movement of the steering would make an over-exaggerated movement.  I turned the dual rate down and played around with the exponential a little and finally became comfortable with my transmitter settings.  The first time the car was on the track with other cars was in a breakout race... probably not the best idea... but I couldn't help it.  I ran the first couple of laps trying to keep the car from turning anything faster than 6 second laps... but I just wanted to go fast.  So I floored it... and missed a lot of laps... I ended up dead last even though I'm 100% sure I turned the most laps that didn't count.  In the end, I ended up with a pretty bad chunked rear tire... but it was worth it. 

After getting a chance to run the Rebel 12 on carpet, I couldn't wait for the next week when I could get this car turning right.  I made a few adjustments (ride height, swapped 13g wire for 16g) and changed the stock axles out for Associated ones to get rid of the little e-clip and use 3mm locknuts.  Three qualifiers later, I was more than satisfied because I qualified 2nd, right behind Tim Harrington.  During the main, I ended up getting myself too worked up and found myself battling Justin Mitchell for the number 2 spot.  His car was faster than mine and I tried my best to concentrate and stay on my line.  After swapping back and forth a few times, Justin managed to get by and pull away.  I helped out a little when I began to lose focus and make mistakes, but he earned the spot and was driving better than me that day.  When all was said and done this day, I was very satisfied with my first outing in 12th scale touring.  Two weeks is a long time to wait for a race day....

My most recent race with the 12th scale began like before, I was making some minor adjustments (swapped and trued tires, removed shims to reduce pre-load on front shocks).  My practice lap times were right there with the fast guys.  Once again, three qualifiers and there I was sitting in 2nd right behind Tim and right in front of Justin... the only difference this time was that I was nervous as hell (just an RC race...).  After making a few mistakes during the first couple laps, I found my groove and retained 2nd the entire race.  My lap times were quick enough to stay with the leader but my mistakes cost me again.  I ended up performing my best all day during that main.  I am very satisfied with the Rebel and I think that the mix of this car and my personal driving style are a great mesh.  I hope to continue to improve and one day make a run at Tim Harrington, but only time will tell... and you know how that goes.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Off-Road Racing at Thunder Alley R/C Speedway

In an effort to fulfill my need for more R/C, I ventured to Thunder Alley R/C Speedway in Wilson, NC for off-road racing.  I am fairly new to R/C and started with carpet touring back in September last year.  Since then, I have tried several touring classes and have had some luck and even placed a couple of times.  So, in an effort to broaden my horizons, one of my buddies let me run a Jammin SCRT-10 truck in the mod class.  Short course racing is a total different monster compared to anything on-road.  To say the least, I thought it would be a little easier keeping the wheels on the ground and the truck out of the air... and not on it's roof.  I did a decent job of qualifying... 3rd and just .8 secs short of 2nd.  So I was pretty confident going into the main with a "looser" way of handling an R/C vehicle.  After the 2nd lap, I had managed to "not crash" enough to get myself into the top spot.  That's right... my first time racing on dirt and I'm leading the pack!!  Unfortunately, a ball joint didn't see things my way.  Apparently, when you nose dive out of a jump (lawn dart as some of the guys called it) things tend to pop off, break, or just loosen up.  The turn marshalls popped the ball joint back into place twice... but not after I dropped 3 spots into 4th.  Where I would coast to an unsavory finish.  The lesson I learned while off-road racing was simply... don't wreck and don't break nothing.

I managed to get my camera out for a couple of rounds and got a few good pics of the rest of the action.

1/8th E-Buggy

Throwing dirt!

Tearing Down the Straight

Catching Air


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rosewood RC Speedway (Glenn's Hobby Corner)

Glenn's facility is one of the best I have seen.  Back in July 2010 I stopped by to check out the used RC trucks that he had for sale.  Specifically, a T-Maxx that I was going to buy for my birthday.  Ron, the race announcer and local goofball, was answering all the questions a newbie asks when getting into the hobby.  Then I noticed a sign that said "Race Track Entrance".  Back then, I didn't realize what amazing wonder I just stumbled across.

I went through the door, playing out some sort of Alice in Wonderland scenario.  Beyond those doors was where the real action of Rosewood takes place.  The first track was the indoor carpet that was in the midst of a renovation and a plethora of pit spaces with power.  This track, as you can see in my videos, is used for some seriously competitive oval racing.  I learned later that the racing at Rosewood RC Speedway is frequented by some of the top racers in the nation.  Many national champs and even a couple of RC company head honchos gather here to spruce up their skills and get prepared for the BIG events, such as Snowbirds, and Oval Nats.  Needless to say, if carpet oval is your thing and you want to improve your skills, you need to race against the best and that's what Glenn's facility offers.

That's not all, the carpet track is converted every other Sunday into a road course for some serious touring car action.  The competition on this level is right up there with the oval guys.  National champs, sponsored racers, and fast laps are frequent at these club races as well. 

Beyond the next door is the outdoor tracks.  A very impressive asphalt touring track that can be set up in different configurations is the highlight of the warmer months.  I have yet to experience asphalt racing, but I am more than excited about this years Down East Championship Series between Rosewood RC and FMRC (Fayetteville Model Racing Club).  This event is currently being organized by Tim Shurr and Tim McKeand in conjunction with Rosewood and Fayetteville members. 

To top it off, there is one more track.  An outdoor asphalt oval course that is to blame for may addiction.  Back to that day in July, I was told of an event that Rosewood RC Speedway was hosting in August.  It was a T.O.U.R. series race.  I brought a coworker along for the ride to check out the event.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I was completely unaware of how big RC racing really was.  People from all over gathered and the pits were full.  To my amazement, a few people even tow trailers fitted with all the important necessities to pit.  I wanted in on this....

Check out Glenn's Hobby Corner and ask questions on the Rosewood RC Speedway Forum.